Memories of Apples
Apples were not a common food in my house. They were saved for holidays like Halloween, Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries. They were for special occasions – like when my aunt from Colorado flew up or when my cousin had her first baby. Us kids always knew that something special was going to happen when we came home from school and saw our mother washing apples. The sweetness of the fruit never got boring that way.
We knew it was never Christmas until our father brought home apples. We would pick a few small ones and cut them up before our mother dried them. Then we'd string them and put them on our Christmas tree. The rest were for apple pie for after Christmas dinner. The house always smelled so good around that time. My friends liked to come over the day before Christmas Eve when my mother was baking the pies so that they could bask in the warmth of the house. Because the apples meant that it was time for warmth, laughter, peace.
Every Halloween, our family would make caramel apples together. Each year, we'd try something new with them. Some times it would be just caramel, others we'd add nuts or chocolate. We couldn't eat the apples until Halloween because that was our biggest treat. We'd take them to our grandparents' house where our whole family would meet for the big dinner before trick-or-treating. Our apples were everyone's favorites.
I never really understood why apples had to be so special but I didn't mind much either. They made each holiday and birthday that much more special. It wasn't until I was thirteen – my older sister was seventeen and my younger brother was eleven – that my parents sat us down to tell us why we always saved apples.
They told us that our mom's parents had lived through the Great Depression and had had to sell a lot of their things to get by. They saved almost all their money while Grandpa went looking for work. They would only take a few dollars out for bread and cheese when they got too hungry. No holiday was very special. Every day was just trying to get by. Then, miraculously, Grandpa got a job. It wasn't a big job that paid a lot but it made their lives easier. He worked in a factory as World War 1 started in Europe. The days for him were drab and long.
However, just down the street from his work, was a farmer who owned an orchard. Grandpa would walk past it every day on his way to and from work. He would look at the shiny apples wistfully each day but never thought to ask the farmer about them. Grandma's birthday was quickly arriving, though, and they were scraping by as they had just moved in with some friends who had managed to gather up enough money to buy a small house.
Grandpa wanted to get something for Grandma. As he passed the orchard on his way home from work, he stopped and went up to the house by it. Knocking softly, he looked at the pretty apples. The farmer opened the door and peered out at him, asking what he needed. Grandpa turned to him, pulling out some money, and said, "I want to buy some apples." The farmer smiled and led him to the orchard where he filled a basket with the fruit. When Grandpa asked how much he needed to pay him, the farmer told him, "Nothing." Grandpa was baffled.
He tried to give him five dollars but the farmer refused to take it. Grateful, Grandpa went home and showed the apples to Grandma. They both started crying. They gathered the rest of the supplies they'd need over the next few days and Grandma baked the best apple pie they'd ever had. Grandpa made sure to take a piece to the farmer who looked so happy to have it. The farmer offered to let them have more apples whenever they wanted but they never asked for any unless it was a special occasion. And Grandpa worked for free on his days off to help the farmer tend to his orchard. Grandma and Grandpa always held that day in their hearts and made the apple a precious fruit in their family.
I finally understood why it was so special. From that day on, I knew that I wanted to carry on the tradition. Even without knowing the story, apples had made each holiday very important to me. I didn't ever want to forget how wonderful those days felt to me. Years later, I had a husband and children of my own. We never bought apples unless it was an important holiday – like Christmas, Halloween, birthdays, or anniversaries. I love seeing how one apple can make my children's faces light up. And I love how the hope, peace, laughter, and warmth haven't left the holidays.
A/N: Just a short little drabble I'd thought of while I ate an apple. I thought that it was cute and kind of inspiring so I decided to write it all out and post it. I hope you like it. Please review. :)